Dr. Bill Haley and Victoria Marino Advocate for the Common Problem of Wandering
Dr. Bill Haley, Professor in the School of Aging Studies (SAS), and Victoria Marino, a student in the PhD in Aging Studies program, participated in a joint project with the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Aging, and the advocacy group Autism Speaks, to advocate for the common problem of wandering that can occur in people across the lifespan, with conditions ranging from childhood disabilities through older adults with Alzheimer's disease. Both groups are supporting a bill, Kevin and Avonte's Law, to provide funding through the US Department of Justice to train first responders and others to be alert to issues of wandering, and ways to intervene with people who are wandering due to a disability or cognitive impairment. Dr. Haley and Ms. Marino completed an advocacy training program led by staff from APA and Autism Speaks, along with other teams of APA members and students throughout the country. These teams then met with local US Senators and Representatives. Dr. Haley and Ms. Marino met in August with Representative Gus Bilirakis and his Chief of Staff Elizabeth HIttos, and with Senator Bill Nelson's Regional Director, Digna Alvarez. The meetings were a great success and the bill is moving forward. The meetings also allowed Dr. Haley and Ms. Marino to share information about the successes of SAS and the College in research and teaching related to disability throughout the life span. Just recently we learned that both the House and Senate appropriations bills now include funding for Kevin and Avonte's Law. APA plans to continue this program of advocacy training for students and APA members.